How have you been these past weeks? It seems turbulence is around to stay for a while, right?
From a coaching / personal development perspective these are beautifully rich times. Not necessarily easy, but as many things are coming to the surface, with willingness, there is also a huge potential for transformation.
Being in this myself and with clients, it had me thinking about a topic I wanted to write about for a while:
4 common self-limiting beliefs, and how to gradually transform them.
What are self-limiting beliefs? They are beliefs about ourself that we gathered somewhere in early childhood. (Did you know that the bulk of our social programming happens from age 0 to 7, and unless worked with consciously, never gets updated?) In my work with coaching clients and in my Find Your Flavour – Circling Leadership Training these core beliefs inevitably come up, because when you start diving into your personal leadership, you will inevitably find the ways you have been holding yourself back from showing up more fully.
We all have these beliefs. And we structure a lot of our behaviour and even our identity on these beliefs. So if you want to transform the way you operate, you have to look at the core, at the root cause of why you behave a certain way. For me, that lies at the heart of leadership development.
What I have found consistently is that most of us have a variation of these 4 self-limiting beliefs running:
– I am not good enough
– I don’t belong
– I am broken
– I am unlovable
These 4 keep coming up over and over, no matter the setting or the type of person. Which shows me that deep down we are actually quite similar. Young or old; CEO or student; male of female; we all have these self-limiting beliefs that are part of our operating system.
It is tender territory, addressing and exploring them, because they were formed at a young, vulnerable age. You started believing this because you interpreted a certain situation a certain way. And in response you tried your utmost best to never have that experience again.
So you built behaviour that made sure that you would never feel not good enough – by always working hard and excelling at things. You avoided ever feeling like you did not belong – by always being attentive to other people, putting their needs before our own. Or you avoided feeling unlovable at any point, by either shying away from real connection or loving other people so well they just had to love you back.
Here is the thing: that does not make these self-limiting beliefs go away. And often the behaviour you created to avoid them caused the thing you feared to happen over and over, strengthening those beliefs.
But here is the other – beautiful – thing: they are not true.
Realising this is the first step to unpacking these beliefs and the corresponding behaviour.
They are true to a part of you, that same very young part. The part made that made that assessment at a young age, with limited perspective available (our brains are only fully developed once we reach the age of 25).
In our our adult lives and from our adult perspectives most of us have plenty of data showing us that we are loveable, because people love us. That we do belong, because we have friends. That we are not broken, because we are functioning. That we are good enough, because people tell us so.
But that young part does not feel that way. And no matter how much data you gather, if you hold that self-limiting belief, you can try till you die and nothing will change that feeling. To that young part it is impossible to feel this adult reality, because it is counter to what it believes. A version of ‘does not compute’ keeps happening, and the belief keeps running.
However: once you take a bigger perspective, within yourself, on that part, things start shifting. Once you take a step back and bring your adult awareness in, you can see all that part needs is just to be loved. By you. It needs to be accepted, to be welcomed home. And the only one that can do that is you. Nobody else.
The beauty is: we all have that capacity to do so. To take our little one by the hand and show it it is not defective, not broken, very much good enough and very much loveable. Because we are loving it.
Once you start doing that, day by day, step by step, that part will starting running the show less. Sure, it will flare up, because you will triggered, because you are a human being like the rest of us. But it will also calm down, because it is getting the love and attention it needed.
Gradually you will find yourself being able to let some of those other perspectives in a bit more. You start believing a friend when he or she says you are awesome, that you are loved regardless of what you do.
That you are loved just because you are.
And that is the shift that matters. You loving your younger part so fiercely you transform the self-limiting belief to one that is much more aligned with reality.
That is true leadership in my book; continually investigating what part of you is running the show, and acting accordingly. Gaining awareness on when to step back and hold space for your little one, and when to fire on all cilinders and go for it, because you know you in your adult self. Both are just as valid, and just as relevant, for balanced leadership.
Speaking of balanced, and authentic, leadership: our Find Your Flavour – Circling Leadership Training is filling up! It looks like there are 2 spots left. If you want to join us and dive deep into your leadership development, and work actively with yourself-limiting beliefs – through the practice of leading Circling – reach out for an enrolment conversation.
PS: Byron Katie does amazing work in identifying and shifting limiting beliefs through her (freely available) The Work. Highly recommended.